Before TV, more people read books. They also read newspapers and there were more of them to read. Readers talked with others about what they had read. Good stories by good writers transported readers to other worlds, giving them vicarious experiences that made them feel good, offering hope and laughter.
Recently on PBS, I stumbled upon the 22-year-old made-for-television film, “Anne of Green Gables.” It was one of the most pleasant TV experiences I have had in a long time. It is a redemptive and lovely film, wonderfully written, beautifully shot and splendidly cast. It left me with a good feeling, in contrast to much of what is on most TV stations, which usually makes one with any taste, education or class want to take a bath. “Anne” was an oasis in a “vast wasteland,” to recall what FCC Commissioner Newton Minow said about television 46 years ago.
Television was once viewed as a welcome guest in the home. Programmers were to behave as any guest, not soiling the carpet or breaking furniture, controlling their children and demonstrating sensibilities that would not offend their hosts. No more. Today’s television programs behave like uninvited guests who stay too long, eat all the food, drink too much and throw up on the new rug.
Most people could live without TV if they tried. The Writers Guild strike gives them that chance. Take a walk with your daughter. Have a conversation with your wife, your husband. Eat dinner together as a family without the distraction of the television set. Read a book and immerse yourself in fictional characters or real history. Instead of being spoon-fed irrelevancies and meaningless chatter, exercise your mind. You will quickly form new, more pleasant habits that will leave you with better feelings than does TV’s corrupt fare from which more of us should flee.